Community Foundation, Selby Gardens bring families together for Lights in Bloom

Categories: Stories of Impact, BELONGING AND CULTURE: Strengthening Families, BELONGING AND CULTURE: Uniting Community, Two-Generation Approach,

More than 1,300 children, families, teachers and school staff enjoyed complimentary access to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' Lights in Bloom holiday light show this season thanks to a partnership between Selby Gardens and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Through the Family Togetherness program, which is funded by the Community Foundation, Selby Gardens offered a free evening for children and families from Title 1 schools, Sarasota Housing Authority, Girls Inc., Boys and Girls Clubs, Margwine Organization, Unidos Now, Early Learning Coalition, and others who might not have been able to see the award-winning light show.

"The remarkable lights, holiday spirit, and natural marvels on display during Lights in Bloom plants seeds of imagination, wonder, and joy," said Kirsten Russell, vice president of community impact at the Community Foundation. "That's a reason we're so proud to partner with Selby Gardens each year, and so glad to help ensure that all of our community's families can behold this magical moment."

This marked the sixth year that families experienced this opportunity to attend Lights in Bloom through the Community Foundation's sponsorship.

In addition to the light show set throughout Selby Gardens' 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus, guests enjoyed complimentary food, holiday treats, and activities such as face painting and balloon art. Vendors that donated food for the evening included Micheal's on East, Boar's Head, Purple Bell Ice Cream, Reform Coffee, Uncle Dave's Popcorn, and Five-O Donut Co., while Greg Art Balloon Twister and Suzie Kalin of Pixie Face Painting donated their services.

Families also had a holiday photo opportunity, and Santa was on hand to sit for photos and hear children's wishes.

"We are delighted to partner with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to offer local families a place of respite, joy, and an opportunity to enjoy Lights in Bloom," said Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens. "The happiness this program brings to children and their families is unparalleled. It is a highlight of our holiday season."

The dedicated evening at Lights in Bloom sponsored by the Community Foundation is part of a larger, multiyear partnership that includes additional Family Togetherness programming and new educational opportunities at Selby Gardens. Local families will have access to more special events at the Gardens in the spring and summer.

The Family Togetherness program is part of the Ann Winslow Donelly and Norbert P. Donelly Family and Community Engagement Series at Selby Gardens. For more information visit